AMC’s adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is definitely not the 1994 film. It’s also not Rice’s book. But it’s also not not her book. That push and pull between “faithful adaptation” and “new characters who happen to have the same names” is pretty fascinating and mostly fun. But it’s definitely bound to be both a good thing and a bad thing for viewers.
For the most part, even when the series strays from the story many of us have followed for decades—from Louis’ story in Interview, to Lestat’s story for pretty much rest of The Vampire Chronicles and so many other vampires’ stories along the way—it still holds the right heart and feel. If you’ve read these books, or seen that movie, many times over the years, you’ll definitely recognize a lot.
But there’s also enough here to bring in new fans without making them feel completely out of their depth. That’s important. Especially if we want multiple seasons and the chance to make even the bizarre AF Atlantis stuff, one day(?), come to life on our screens. And even if AMC is like, “hard pass” to all that, it’s still cool to have new people to obsess over the Dark Gift with.
After all, it’s in carrying their stories through the generations that Louis and Lestat become, and remain, truly immortal. The same, in some sense, is true of their creator, whose words—I’m finally able to actually say without losing it too much—will be sorely missed
“…no ordinary man at all.”
Given Sam Reid’s performance, and even some of the information the series reveals about his Lestat’s history, Reid is even more Brat Prince than Tom Cruise ever was. A hot take? Yep. Do I stand by it? Also yep.
Reid has the benefit of The Vampire Chronicles’ entirety, at least technically, being accessible to the creatives involved. So, this is more of a Lestat’s Lestat. He is, however, still seen primarily through Louis’ eyes.
As he should be. We’re only on Interview, after all. But oh, boy, please let The Vampire Lestat actually have its on-screen moment. I’m begging.
“Louis was a sufferer…”
His story is simultaneously radically different from, just a slight alteration of, and more perfectly in tune with the Louis we all know and love. (And, of course, that “we” includes Lestat, however sometimes grudgingly.)
It’s fascinating to sit there, watch these episodes, and say “ok but why isn’t he more emo” (Lestat would probably choose “melancholy” or “brooding” to convey the same meaning) just moments before clapping and yelling, “there he is!” And honestly, that’s the beauty of the way Anderson and this particular adaptation of Interview with the Vampire make the character all their own.
With the change in time period comes great opportunities for deeper storytelling while still keeping the genuine flavor of Rice’s tale. I’m equal parts troubled by some of the changes, especially in terms of Louis’ abilities, and appreciative of them. It’s clear that the writers took care to make sure the Black main character was equal to, not the subordinate of, the white one. It kind of screws with the mythology, though. And that leaves many open questions about how much we’ll diverge from the text if and when we start to see other histories.
“Claudia broke my heart.”
If I had to pick any place where this series just doesn’t work, it’s basically in all things Claudia. “Infant death,” she is not. Which would be fine if the characterization were consistent or, at the very least, believable in the ways it’s inconsistent. It’s not. At all. So. “Evil of my evil” is probably much more accurate, just…not in the fond way Lestat once meant it.
Recreating Claudia as a teen had so many brilliant possibilities. But Interview with the Vampire avoided all of them and instead opted for…whatever this is. The problem with this Claudia is that she’s simultaneously much older than both Rice’s words and Kirsten Dunst’s film portrayal—while also written and portrayed as if she is still very, very young. And trying to have it both ways results in disaster.
Horrifyingly enough, Dunst’s Claudia was, somehow, more mature. So, condolences to Bailey Bass for having to navigate…whatever this is. For her part, there are moments where she is so incredibly Claudia and hits that flavor—even in her own way!—that are really satisfying.
But sadly (or maybe irritatingly) enough, those moments are the exception. Not the rule.
“I don’t believe I want to give simple answers.”
But still, the series survives on so many strengths. And it’s at its best when it’s like, “fuck it. Let’s make it sexy and hella gay” or “fuck it. We’re twisting that well-known thing on its head,” or even “let’s put this here for the hardcore stans while probably pissing off the viewers that only know the film.”
As for whether or not Interview with the Vampire works as its own series, regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with the source material, it’s difficult to say. That has nothing to do with the quality so much as it has everything to do with loving these stories, these words on the page that said, “yes, you. Outsider, I understand you.”
But I really, really enjoyed watching the episodes I’ve been able to screen so far. And I really can’t stress enough how overdue we were for an adaptation of Rice’s work that actually leans into the obvious, complicated love between Louis and Lestat.
And yes, that love has always been romantic. So, on that front, and on the front of how this series handles race relations in 1920s-ish New Orleans, haters can die mad.
So, yeah. It’s complicated and difficult to come up with a final verdict on the series, given the strong attachment to previous canon and the untimely nature of its release—less than a year after Rice’s death. But, then again, these characters have always been complicated and difficult, as was the author’s legacy.
So, I’ve enlisted some help from Jasmine, who’s covering the series with me, to drop some additional teases.
Random spoiler-free takes on Interview with the Vampire
- That is so entirely Anne Rice’s New Orleans, I can’t even.
- Jasmine: The moment we were transported back to New Orleans, I said “Yes, this is Anne Rice. And it’s taking me right into her world.”
- Personally, I’m super protective of Armand, considering he’s the one main character who, previously, was not at all well adapted. We have not yet officially met him in AMC’s Interview with the Vampire…but there are times when I swear his influence, if not his actual presence, is hiding in plain sight. But then, something will happen to tell me I was a fool for that. And then…back to things that validate my (probably clownish) theory.
- Jasmine: I’m with Shana on this one. I have this odd suspicion that Armand could be hiding in plain sight. Nothing is impossible with this adaptation.
- “Two totally aware adult eyes,” apparently, don’t exist on a vampire who is made at age 14 and then “grows up.” (Sure, Jan).
- Jasmine: I really wanted to tell Claudia to calm down at times because her energy was so chaotic. I understood what was being done by making her have the child-like tendencies. But I felt like becoming a vampire should have short-stopped some of that and made her much more mature.
- They really know how to end episodes in a way that will get people talking, for better or worse.
- Jasmine: Oh, yeah. This series delivers all the cliffhangers that make you crave the next episode.
- Jasmine: Louis’s profession had me scratching my head. But then, when I really sat and thought about it, it made sense.
- Anderson has this one line, at this one point, that had me laughing so hard I cried. Because it’s familiar…but not from him? And the way he says it is…It’s brilliant, ok?
- Jasmine: There are a ton of great lines coming from both Anderson and Reid. They have some great interactions, and watching them go back and forth is so entertaining. You can’t take your eyes off of them.
- Actually got up and flipped through The Vampire Lestat to find the exact source of something.
- Jasmine: Anderson nailed his transformation of going from human to vampire. His personality is the same but not.
- Jasmine: I am obsessed with Reid’s Lestat okay? #SorryNotSorry.
Interview with the Vampire premieres on Sunday, October 2 at 10/9c on AMC, with the first two episodes available on AMC+ that night.